AFM A-List: 18 Hot Titles at This Year's Market
New movie projects debuting include a potential awards contender starring Meryl Streep, Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' and a Russell Brand economic documentary
A version of this story first appeared in a special American Film Market issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Foreign film distributors seeking to fill their 2015 and 2016 slates will have a diverse lineup from which to choose at AFM -- but whether they decide to bite and prebuy a project before it begins shooting is another question because many have been burned by a star dropping out. "You can't go out with something that isn't fully baked," says Sierra/Affinity CEO Nick Meyer. Lotus co-chairman Bill Johnson agrees: "The bull's-eye has gotten pretty narrow in terms of what distributors will aggressively prebuy." Insiders say a handful of potential high-profile projects still hope to close before AFM gets underway Nov. 5, but as it now stands, here are the titles high on buyers' lists (some have even started shooting).
Criminal (Nu Image/Millennium)
DIRECTOR Ariel Vromen
STARS Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot
BUZZ The concept story sees the memories and skills of a dead CIA operative implanted into the mind of a death row inmate. (Millennium also will use AFM to finish selling Mechanic: The Resurrection, starring Jason Statham.)
Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate)
DIRECTOR J.C. Chandor
STAR Mark Wahlberg
BUZZ The Summit/Participant Media project should have no trouble selling worldwide. The Lionsgate film, set for domestic release in September 2016, was inspired by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil-rig disaster.
The Emperor's New Clothes (StudioCanal)
DIRECTOR Michael Winterbottom
STAR Russell Brand
BUZZ The documentary is billed as an exposé of the world financial crisis and the inequality created by wealth.
DIRECTOR Stephen Frears
STARS Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant
BUZZ The biopic tells the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, who used her inheritance to launch a career as an opera star, only to be ridiculed for her singing.
STATUS Script stage
Go With Me (Electric)
DIRECTOR Daniel Alfredson
STARS Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta
BUZZ Based on the book by Castle Freeman Jr., the movie is set in the Pacific Northwest and centers on an ex-logger who aids a young woman being harassed by a local crime lord. The Swedish filmmaker is a household name among foreign buyers after directing The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
The Godmother (Sierra/Affinity)
DIRECTOR Eva Sorhaug
STARS Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jon Bernthal, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Oscar Jaenada
BUZZ The biopic stars Zeta-Jones as infamous Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, aka "the Godmother of Cocaine," who played a key role in the Miami drug wars of the 1970s and '80s. (It's the second Colombian cartel biopic being shopped at AFM after IM Global's The Man Who Made It Snow, reteaming director Antoine Fuqua and Jake Gyllenhaal.)
The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Co.)
DIRECTOR Quentin Tarantino
STARS Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen
BUZZ Foreign buyers will get their first chance to read Tarantino's reworked script for the post-Civil War Western. However, because of security concerns after an earlier version was leaked online, they will have to read it inside TWC's offices at AFM, not in the comfort of their hotel rooms.
Hungry Hearts (Radiant)
DIRECTOR Saverio Costanzo
STARS Adam Driver, Alba Rohrwacher
BUZZ The thriller, about a young Italian couple in a fateful struggle over the life of their infant, made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where Driver and Rohrwacher won Coppa Volpi awards for best actor and actress.
DIRECTOR John Moore
STARS Pierce Brosnan
BUZZ The high-tech thriller, uniting the former James Bond actor with the director of A Good Day to Die Hard, boasts solid prospects -- even though Brosnan's recent action film The November Man disappointed at the box office.
La La Land (Lionsgate)
DIRECTOR Damien Chazelle
STARS Emma Watson, Miles Teller
BUZZ The musical, a love letter to Old Hollywood, is Chazelle's follow-up to Whiplash (which also starred Teller) and one of the few new AFM projects targeting the younger set. (Another such title is Content Media's Comet, starring Justin Long and Emmy Rossum. Sam Esmail is directing the time-travel romance.)
Lion (The Weinstein Co.)
DIRECTOR Garth Davis
STARS Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman
BUZZ Harvey Weinstein has high hopes for the project, based on a Vanity Fair article about a street kid from Calcutta who is taken in by a couple from Australia (rivals agree it could be one of the hottest titles at AFM). TWC will release the drama in the U.S. and is selling international rights.
Man Down (The Solution)
DIRECTOR Dito Montiel
STARS Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara, Gary Oldman, Jai Courtney
BUZZ LaBeouf plays a troubled Afghanistan war veteran who searches for his family in postapocalyptic America. LaBeouf, now in theaters in Fury, says he is back in good form after his bizarre antics at the Berlin Film Festival.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (Mister Smith)
DIRECTOR Matt Brown
STARS Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, Stephen Fry
BUZZ The period drama, which is nearly complete, stars Patel as self-taught Indian math genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. Irons plays G.H. Hardy, the British mathematician who plucked Ramanujan from obscurity.
Michael (The Exchange)
DIRECTOR Justin Kelly
STARS James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts
BUZZ Franco plays real-life gay activist Michael Glatze, who denounced his homosexuality and became a pastor. Kelly, a first-time feature director, is a protege of Gus Van Sant, one of the film's executive producers. (At AFM, The Exchange also will be selling Dustin Lance Black's romantic comedy The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which recently cast Hailee Steinfeld.)
DIRECTOR Tanya Wexler
STAR Keanu Reeves
BUZZ Lorenzo di Bonaventura is among the producers of Wexler's follow-up to Hysteria. The project, about a man who will stop at nothing to bring his family back from the dead, comes on the heels of Reeves' turn in the critically acclaimed John Wick.
Three Generations (IM Global)
DIRECTOR Gaby Dellal
STARS Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon
BUZZ The intimate drama stars Fanning as a teenage girl, in the midst of becoming a boy, who examines the impact of her decision on her single mother and lesbian grandmother.
DIRECTOR Aaron Kaufman
STARS Pierce Brosnan, Ashley Greene, Justin Chatwin
BUZZ A group of friends on an island getaway can't resist trying a new designer drug. The only problem: It makes users unable to control their urges. (Brosnan plays the dealer.)
Yoga Hosers (XYZ Films)
DIRECTOR Kevin Smith
STARS Johnny Depp, Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment
BUZZ The quirky horror film, financed and produced by StarStream, should be a huge draw thanks to Johnny Depp. In the film, Smith's and Depp's real-life daughters play plucky Canadian teenagers who take on an ancient evil force, enlisting Depp's character to help them.
Nov 4, 7:30 a.m. Updated with The Man Who Made It Snow.